The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt By: Nicole Urquidi

The Spatial Experience

Walking into the theater, I was greeted by these blue lights on the wall outside. I thought they were beautiful so I turned around and snapped a quick picture to remember them. The inside of the auditorium was beautiful. My friend and I got there early so we walked around and admired the pictures and statues that inhabited the hallway. Finally, it was time to go inside and I felt excited. We filed into our seats about 6 rows back, towards the middle which was perfect to be able to see and hear each character perfectly. When the lights dimmed and the audience quieted, my heart started racing, and as the first characters took the stage I let myself fall into the story they told. The auditorium was smaller than some other auditoriums I've been to, but this made it easier to see the characters as the stage was also smaller. It was also beneficial to be near the front for the after-talk with the actors so I could clearly understand them. In the good life, place is important as it pertains to your comfort level. If you are in a place that is not comfortable, you will have a harder time achieving the good life until you are comfortable.

The blue lights along the pathway leading to the theater and the statues in the building.

The Social Experience

I attended the performance with my friend Will, but when we got there I ran into my other friend Kahra who I was really excited to see. We had no idea that we were both going to the same play on the same night, so naturally we took a selfie to commemorate the coincidence! But before I went to the play I got ready by finishing my homework early and changing into nice jeans and a shirt. Then I left for the play with Will. Attending the play with Will and Kahra made the experience all the more enjoyable. We understood the same story and felt the same emotions which was a great bonding experience for us three. We all also stayed for the after-talk with the actors and relished in the opportunity to get to know them. After we discussed how inspiring it was to see how committed these actors and actresses were to their role in the play, as one even talked about how she didn't do her thesis and instead did extensive research on the story of Sarah Bernhardt. Shared experiences are important in achieving the good life because they connect you with your friends and even the other people around you, as you now have a common thread that pulls you closer to these people.

My friend Kahra and I before going into the theatre.
Written consent from Kahra Williams to use the above photo that she's in.

The Cultural and Intellectual Experience

Before attending the performance I had very little knowledge of the material, or about life in the 20th century in general. Walking through the doors under the sign that read "Constans Theatre," I had no idea what I was getting myself into. But the performance helped me look at censorship in art differently, and the role of the church in society. It made me think about how hard life must've been for those oppressed by religion, and how the strict moral codes of the church left little room for the cultural experience of the performing arts. The central issue presented in the performance was that the Archbishop of Quebec wanted to ban Sarah Bernhardt, a rising star in the world of performing arts, from performing in their city. The sympathy I felt for the seminaries, and the awe inspiring personality of Sarah Bernhardt made me want her to be able to perform against the wishes of the Archbishop. Unfortunately, I have never had a knack for being onstage, or any kind of art for that matter, so I could not relate to that aspect of the storyline, but I have been awestruck by certain celebrities, so I could relate to the feelings of the seminaries.

The entrance of the theatre.

The Emotional Experience

The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt offers the audience an opportunity for katharsis because we had to look deep within ourselves to see if we believed in the ideals of the church or the art. We also had to see if we had the capability to emphasis with whichever side we disagreed with, as that is a hard quality to possess. Additionally, the play made me think about how modern day art and media is censored, limiting our growth and development as a society. The more religious among us had to take a look at how their strict, yet understandable values, affected the lives and careers of artists and the effect they have on society, and those who consider themselves supporters of art, such as myself, had to consider that maybe the church has a point on the negative results of limiting censorship, especially on the younger members of society.

The program from the play.
Created By
Niki Urquidi

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